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Let me preface this by saying that my home’s breaker panel is inside in the laundry room.

What I want to do is add a new breaker in the panel for a series of exterior GFCI outlets because I have none and need the power supply badly. I’m thinking GFCI in an exterior protected box because we get a lot of rain and snow… and I want them covered properly.

Can I just add a new breaker to the box and run it through the wall and outside, then daisy-chain 5-6 more around the exterior in some conduit to protect the wire from the elements? Do I use 12/2 and need only one outlet as a GFCI in addition to the GFCI breaker?

Help! I can add the outlets myself, that’s the easy part. Just not sure about the technical stuff and I live in the sticks, so hiring a professional is cost-prohibitive.

Thanks!!

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    It is usually recommended to keep GFCI inside of the house, either with using a GFCI breaker or an inside outlet before going outside. Any wires outside must be wet rated, so UF cable(not recommended in conduit) or THWN wire.
    – crip659
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:09

1 Answer 1

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There are 4 options:

  • GFCI with each receptacle - not recommended due to cost and especially not for outside receptacles. (But this is sometimes done in kitchens for ease of GFCI reset.)
  • GFCI/breaker - provided your panel can take a GFCI/receptacle, this is the easiest method. It protects everything on the circuit using standard receptacles. The drawbacks are (a) cost and (b) not all panels can use a GFCI/breaker. Some old panels don't have them available, and some panels are so full that you have to use half-size breakers, which are not available with GFCI.
  • GFCI/deadfront inside with the receptacles chained off the load screws on the GFCI/deadfront. The key is to install and test the GFCI/deadfront first and then add the receptacles.
  • GFCI/receptacle for the first receptacle and standard receptacle for the rest of them, with the other receptacles chained off of the load screws on the GFCI/receptacle. This is the lowest cost method and generally works well. The key is to install and test the GFCI/receptacle first and then add the additional receptacles.

So I would go with the last option. However, I would consider a variant that makes it close to the GFCI/deadfront option: Put the GFCI/receptacle indoors. That puts the most vulnerable and expensive piece inside. It can be used as an extra convenience receptacle. The outdoor receptacles still need to be weather resistant and have in-use covers, but at least this way the GFCI mechanism will be protected from rain/snow/heat/cold/wind/etc.

I would recommend making this a 20A circuit, so 12 AWG wiring. You can use 15A receptacles, but using a 20A circuit means you can make better use of the circuit - e.g., a 15A power tool in use at the same time as a few A of lights are on - without concern. But keep in mind that unless you wire all your receptacles from the inside of the house (i.e., cabling on the inside with boxes in the wall and the cable never going outside), you will need to use wet-rated cable or conduit + wet-rated wire to connect the outdoor receptacles. You can't use ordinary non-metallic cable (a.k.a., Romex) outdoors.

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    One additional note: If choosing to use UF cable to do the outside run, it must still be protected from physical damage when below 8' off the ground. Since pulling UF through conduit is a royal pain (and I find working with UF to be a pain in general), it is strongly recommended to go with individual THHN wires within conduit. It's probably also cheaper than UF.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 14:10

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